By Diane Robertson
The modus operandi for today’s abortion debate focuses on the humanity, or not, of the unborn. Some may argue that anytime between conception and birth the baby is not human and thus has no intrinsic value. By this logic there is no moral reason to support the developing life. On the other side of the debate is the ringing cry that the unborn are living beings, and thus deserve protection. However, this is not the real issue surrounding abortion. The real issue is how far are we willing to go in determining which lives have value, and when is that value awarded?
While speaking at UC Berkeley last week Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator, masterfully responded to a question regarding abortion thus:
A student asked:
“I just wanted to know why exactly do you think a first-trimester fetus has moral value?”
Shapiro answered thus:
“A first trimester fetus has moral value because whether you consider it a potential human life or a full-on human life, it has more value than just a cluster of cells. If left to its natural processes, it will grow into a baby.”
“So the real question is where are you gonna draw the line? Are you gonna draw the line at the heartbeat? Because it’s very hard to draw the line at the heartbeat. There are people who are adults who are alive because of a pacemaker and they need some sort of outside force generating their heartbeat.”
“Are you going to do it based on brain function? OK, well what about people who are in a coma? Should we just kill them?”
“The problem is that anytime you draw any line other than the inception of the child, you end up drawing a false line that can be applied to people who are adults. So either human life has intrinsic value or it doesn’t.”
In effect, when society demands that the beginning of life have a fluctuating and subjective line, the end of human life must also have a fluctuating and subjective line. When we call into question the intrinsic value of the unborn baby, and their potential as individuals, because the pregnancy (rather, the child) is unwanted or inconvenient, we call into question the value of any burdensome human life in existence now.
In 2007, United Families International published its Guide to Family Issues : Abortion. In it we state:
“United Families International fully recognizes the value of life during all stages and promotes the protection of human life from conception until natural death. Human life begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell and begin the human growth process. Reverence for life — including that of the unborn — is an essential part of the basis for peace in the world and goodwill among nations, and is part of the fabric of successful and happy families. Defenseless preborn children are full members of the human family and deserve legal protection.”
When we as a people recognize that the long-term justification of abortion affect not just the potential life of an unwanted child, but that of all human lives today, we can really begin to see clearly the true issue of abortion: who decides and assigns the value of a life?
For more information and additional resources, please see UFI’s Guides to Family Issues : Abortion publication. More can also be found under our Stay Informed menu option at the top of the page.